Air travelers through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja have been counseled to avoid bringing goods that are prohibited by the law into the country and also avoid exporting prohibitions items like endangered species of animals, hard currency and others.
The Customs Area Controller of the MMIA Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Wale Adeniyi gave the counsel in a statement in Lagos on Monday to mark the 2019 Eid-el-Kabir celebration and stressed the determination of his command to ensure the entrenchment of stress-free trips by Nigerians on international flights.
Adeniyi admonished Nigerians on the issue of money laundering and the need for them to declare any amount they are taking out or bringing into the country at the airport, saying government is not against citizens bringing or taking money in and out of the country.
According to Comptroller Adeniyi, “It is absolutely very important that we emphasize the issue of money laundering: there is no government that says citizens cannot take money out of the country or, bring money into the country, irrespective of the amount. What the rule says is that once it is above a particular threshold, it must be declared.
“There are laws and regulations that govern international travels – in terms of the kind of goods that they bring back into the country. Some of them are as simple as in terms of the size of your luggage.
“We have things that are of absolute prohibition. So, the issue about that, for me about this period, in respect of the message to the people, is that they should avoid bringing those goods that are banned into the country; and that, they should also avoid taking out export prohibitions like endangered species of animals, hard currency and things like that.
“It is absolutely very important that we emphasize the issue of money laundering: there is no government that says citizens cannot take money out of the country or, bring money into the country, irrespective of the amount. What the rule says is that once it is above a particular threshold, it must be declared.
“We want to encourage people who travel outside the country to go and make some business; we want to encourage those who already have their businesses abroad, and they want to repatriate cash back home. There are so many electronic options for them to do this across the borders; but if they choose to do it by cash, they should obey the rules.
“My message to them is to obey the extant rules, by declaring such things when they come to the airport. There is a very strict penalty, if not declared; those money could be confiscated and of course, just as a lot of endangered species that international laws and convention try to protect must be protected; for instance, elephant tusk, pangolin, some plants and animals that have been banned, those are the kind of things we should not travel with, out of the country.
“So basically, this will be my advice, we desire to have customer friendly airport, stress free check in, outward and inward clearance so when people comply with the laws, it would be stress free for them. When people buy merchandize in their baggage, if you travel and you bring in things that are considered to be in commercial quantities, the CG of Customs has made it possible now that such goods can be assessed right there at the airport; duties can be assessed; you will know how much you pay and there are banks there, working 24/7 where you can make your duty payment almost immediately; and those goods will be released immediately for you.
“So if you travel, buy only those things, that are not in commercial quantities but if you are bringing them in commercial quantities , be ready for assessment of baggage and payment of duty at the airport, this will be my message.”